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Soc Sci Med. 2012 Feb;74(4):554-64. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.11.008. Epub 2011 Dec 13.

Determinants, self-management strategies and interventions for hope in people with mental disorders: systematic search and narrative review.

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King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, UK.


Developing a recovery focus in mental health services is a policy goal internationally, and hope is a central component of recovery. Yet determinants of hope of people with mental disorders are not well known, nor are strategies and interventions that increase hope. This study aims to systematically summarise the available evidence to fill four relevant knowledge gaps: (1) hope scales used in psychiatric research, (2) determinants of hope, (2) hope-fostering self-management strategies, and (3) interventions to increase hope for people with mental disorders. We conducted a systematic literature search in April 2011 and a narrative synthesis of publications including qualitative and quantitative studies. Results for the first time provide a comprehensive overview of existing evidence and identify important scientific knowledge gaps: (1) Hope scales used do slightly vary in focus but are overall comparable. (2) Most published research used cross-sectional designs resulting in a high number of potential determinants of hope. No studies prospectively investigated the influence of these determinants. (3) Hope fostering self-management strategies of people with mental disorders were described in qualitative studies only with experimental studies completely missing. (4) While some recovery oriented interventions were shown to increase hope as a secondary outcome, there are no successful interventions specifically aimed at increasing hope. This review provides the basis for both practical and research recommendations: The five most promising candidate interventions to improve hope in people with mental disorders are (i) collaborative strategies for illness management, (ii) fostering relationships, (iii) peer support, (iv) helping clients to assume control and to formulate and pursue realistic goals, and (v) specific interventions to support multiple positive factors such as self-esteem, self-efficacy, spirituality and well-being. These may serve to directly improve care and to develop theory-based models and testable interventions to improve hope in mental health as well as in allied fields.

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